When it comes to strong women, there’s a warrior queen in Celtic and British history that has earned a reputation as a mover and shaker in establishing power amongst her people and trying to make a stand against the oppression of foreign forces. In this article, you will learn whom the Queen stood against and whether or not her efforts were a success.
Boudicca (also known as Boadicea) was Queen of the Iceni tribe and is best known for organizing the Celtic tribes in Britain to stand thei rground against Roman occupation. The information we have regarding the Queen is written by two authors: Tacitus, who wrote “Agricola” (98 CE) and “The Annals” (109 CE), and Dio, who penned “The Rebellion of Boudicca” (about 163 CE).
About the Queen
In what is now known as Norfolk and Suffolk, Boudicca was married to Prasutagus, who was the leader of the Iceni tribe located in East England. In 43 CE, the Roman invaded Britain, forcing the majority of Celtic tribes to submit to their power. Despite their forces, the Romans granted two Celtic kings the permission to and most of the Celtic tribes were forced to submit. However, the Romans allowed two Celtic kings to retain some of their traditional power , one of them being Boudicca’s husband, Prasutagus.
The occupation brought more Romans to the region, increased their military presence, and wished to destroy the religious culture associated with the Celts. The economy also suffered a host of changes, including heavy taxation and money lending. Other changes followed in 47 CE when the Romans ordered the Ireni to lay down their arms. This move caused resentment amongst the people. To make matters worse, the Romans had given Prasutagus a grant, which was later called a ‘loan.’ Passing away in 60 CE, Prasutagus wished to settle his debt, giving Emperor Nero half of his kingdom as a result.
When the Romans came to collect on the debt, they decided that they wanted more than just half of the kingdom. Seizing control of the entire kingdom was just the tip of the iceberg. The Romans aimed to humiliate the Celtic rulers, so they publicly beat the Queen and raped their two daughters. They collected the wealth of many Iceni and sold a great deal of the royal family into slavery.
While the Roman governor Suetonius later became more interested in attacking Wales, he opened up a doorway for revenge. His first mistake was taking two-thirds of the Roman military in Britain to accomplish his desire to best Wales. In the meantime, Boudicca arranged a meeting with the leaders of the Iceni, Trinovanti, Cornovii, Durotiges, and other tribes.
In Part 2, you will find out which cities Boudicca and her army attacked, how they punished the inhabitants, and how the Romans deflated their cause.